It’s Friday morning at Maratha Mandir. A crowd has assembled outside the cinema theatre. As soon as the two gates open at 10.30 am, scores of Bollywood buffs make a dash for the ticket booking counter facing Dr Anandrao Marg.
Perhaps not used to large crowds and the jostling, Vinal Amalkar enters the premises at her own pace and heads to the advance booking counter where she claims her ticket she had booked the previous week over the phone.
Amalkar, who lives in Oman’s capital Muscat with her family, has flown down hours earlier just to catch a show of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which completed its 1000 weeks of screening at the famous single-screen theatre on Friday.
“After landing at 2.30 am, I waited at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for nearly six hours, which is why I look so haggard. I took a taxi to this cinema hall at 9 am. I have only one agenda for the day, which is to watch my all-time favourite movie,” Amalkar says.
Running in this cinema hall since 1995, DDLJ holds a record of the longest running movie. Within a few minutes of the ticket counter opening on Friday, both dress circle and balcony tickets were sold out. At 11.30 am, the House Full board was put.
Among the crowd milling around are students who have bunked their colleges and people who have skipped their work, besides the locals.
In Mumbai to just catch the movie, Amalkar has travelled light, with a backpack that has two clothes and her black purse.
“Ideally, I would have loved to come with my husband, but this was a last-minute decision. Watching DDLJ at Maratha Mandir is a box I want to cross it out on my checklist,” says the 27-year-old.
Ask her about the total cost of her trip, Amalkar says, “I’ve learnt romance from DDLJ. I have many connections that I share with the film. Money does not matter in such situations.”
Around the premises, Irwin Fassler is taking his own pictures with various posters, hoardings and cutouts to post on his Facebook group. He takes a picture with a person dressed as Shah Rukh Khan’s character Raj from the film.
“People have travelled for cricket, why can’t they travel for movies?” says Fassler, a Swiss national who owns a tour operating agency and is on a business trip to India.
“I planned my trip to watch the 1000th week in Mumbai. I wish I could meet Shah Rukh Khan. My dream is that he advertises for one of my tours. This is a good marketing opportunity for me,” he says. Sitting in seat A-27 of the balcony, Fassler says he got goosebumps while hearing the crowds cheer, whistle and recite every dialogue. Fassler was shooting these scenes from his Canon digital camera.
Jigar Desai, a 37-year-old stamp collector who has made post cards to mark the occasion, had the stamps of the late Yash Raj pasted on it. There was never a dull moment inside the hall. The only question was —“When is Shah Rukh coming?”